Relocated Convention building designed as ministry center

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The address has changed but the mission remains the same.

The Florida Baptist Convention has found a new home in the city of Jacksonville and wants Florida Baptists to discover this new ministry center.

“We are blessed with the new building in Jacksonville that belongs to Florida Baptists,” said Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention.

Green’s vision for the location is not only for use as office space for the Jacksonville-based Convention staff but as a ministry center for all Florida Baptist churches. This could include providing a space where church starts launch, training takes place and theological education classes meet. The building also houses the offices of the Florida Baptist Witness.

The facility has a great ministry potential beyond office hours of the Convention, Green noted. “We encourage the use of the building for staff retreats and other meetings that will serve our churches. You are welcome to visit the new facility if you are in the Jacksonville area,” he added.

Green hopes to replicate the model of the Southeast Regional Center in Hialeah, which is a hub for multiple ministry efforts in that region.

Within a week of its opening, one Jacksonville church held a staff retreat in the new building. Other churches have expressed an interest in utilizing the meeting facilities, which are offered at no cost.

The new building is located at 6850 Belfort Oaks Place, only a few miles from the Interstate 95 and J. Turner Butler Boulevard corridor, about six miles south of downtown.  The facility is nestled at the end of a cul-de-sac among tree-lined streets surrounded by medical and professional offices.

The Jacksonville-based Convention staff relocated to the new building during the week of Feb. 25-March 3 after the facility was spruced up and lightly renovated.

According to Micah Ferguson, strategic initiatives director, “The Convention has completed another key aspect of reorganization by finalizing its relocation to the new Florida Baptist Convention building.

“While just five miles down the road in Jacksonville, this relocation modernizes the convention office by almost five decades.”

The former Baptist Building, located at 1230 Hendricks Ave., just south of downtown Jacksonville, was built in 1959. During the next six decades, parcels of land were purchased until the site encompassed a city block.

In recent years, the property was placed for sale several times on the real estate market, but was taken off for a number of reasons.

The property was listed again in November 2015 after Green became executive director. A sales contract for $6,125,000 to purchase the building was received in March 2016. The sale is expected to be completed in May.

The State Board of Missions approved the proceeds from the sale to be distributed: $3,123,750—or 51 percent—to the SBC Cooperative Program; $2,301,250 for the purchase of the new building; and $700,000 to complete the funding of an Endowed Chair of Baptist History at the Baptist College of Florida.

The $2.3 million set aside for the new building was earmarked for the purchase price. Additional monies handled other miscellaneous expenses including the physical move, information technology needs and furnishings.

The Belfort Oaks Place facility is a 28,568 square-foot two-story office building built in 1990. Originally listed at $2.49 million, the Convention purchased the property for $2.3 million. The building offers a series of offices and five conference rooms of various sizes that can accommodate from five to 150 people.

Currently the building houses two dozen Jacksonville-based Convention employees, as well as the Witness staff.

The building is expected to be dedicated during the State Board of Missions meeting Aug. 23-25.

By Barbara Denman, Florida Baptist Convention, March 13, 2017

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